Screen grab from a ministry video showing a police arrest.
BARCELONA, Spain - The Spanish Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that authorities had arrested nine people suspected of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The police operation in the capital Madrid, as well as in Valencia and Bilbao, was against a PKK “structure in Spain with ramifications in European countries and Turkey,” the ministry said in a statement.
The aim of the cell was to “collaborate and facilitate the integration of individuals in the armed structure of the terrorist PKK-KCK, which basically operates in Turkey and Syria,” the statement added, referring to the PKK’s umbrella group.
Eight of the detained were Spanish citizens, and the ninth was Turkish, the ministry said.
“The detained, in collaboration with other individuals residing in various European countries, were providing the necessary infrastructure for displaced people to travel abroad and to finally integrate in the ranks of the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) or one of the armed wings of the organization,” the statement said.
It added that recruits were trained in using arms and explosives in training camps “in order to later join the combat cells.”
In dawn raids in the three cities, police also searched 11 homes, one of them a gathering place for most of the detainees and regarded as the base of the group, which called itself “The Communist Reconstruction.”
The European Union, the United States and Turkey regard the PKK to be a terrorist movement.
However, the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the PYD and its armed YPG wing, have been praised by US and Western officials in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, and have received limited arms supplies and air support from the US-led coalition fighting ISIS.
The YPG has attracted fighters from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world who have traveled to Syria to join the war against ISIS.